Find out how genital herpes transmission happens

The main form of transmission of genital herpes occurs through contact in unprotected sex, as the HSV-1 or HSV-2 viruses can be present in the body fluids of the infected person, such as in saliva, semen and vaginal secretions.

The virus has an incubation period (interval between infection and the onset of the first symptoms) that varies from 10 to 15 days after sexual intercourse, taking into account the existence of latent carriers (without manifestations) who can at any time, manifest the disease.

When it comes to genital herpes caused by the HSV-1 virus, transmission can happen during oral sex. This way, people can be infected by the virus in vaginal, oral and anal sex.

The most common form of transmission occurs when someone who is not infected has direct contact with the skin of an infected person who has visible lesions, such as blisters or rashes, that is, during a symptomatic crisis.

However, it is also possible to contract herpes from contact with an infected person when he has no visible lesions, as in most cases people have no symptoms and are unaware that they are infected. 70% of transmissions happen in this asymptomatic period.

How can herpes be transmitted?

The main forms of transmission happen as follows:

  • By direct contact with wounds during herpes attacks;
  • Through saliva, if your partner has oral (active) herpes;
  • For genital secretions, if the partner has genital herpes (especially with lesions).

The chances of transmission are increased in every episode in which the patient has a crisis.

How to prevent transmission?

In addition to the use of condoms , other precautions must be taken so that the transmission of the virus does not occur, such as greater attention with the use of personal objects and hygiene.

It is recommended that cups, lipsticks or any lip balm, razors or shaving blades and bath towels should not be shared, especially in the case of visible injuries.

In some situations the genital herpes virus is not considered a risk of transmission, such as when using toilets, by contact with someone’s bedding and pools.

Can I still have sex normally if I have herpes?

Patients with genital herpes are not destined for a life of chastity just because they have been diagnosed with the disease, however they need to know that care must be redoubled.

The first step in achieving a sex life without risk of infection for the partner is talking and making the condition clear to the other person.

With treatment with suppressive antiviral medication and the use of condoms, the risk of transmission is reduced, but it is not zero. Therefore, it is important to have a medical follow-up so that the disease does not interfere with the patient’s sexual life.

In addition, it is important to emphasize that sexual intercourse should be  avoided when the patient is during an outbreak  of the disease, as it is during this period when the risk of transmission is greatest.

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